Yoga: Breathing for Anxiety

Have you ever experienced the racing thoughts, tightening of your muscles, and quickening of your breath that highlights anxiety?  Or have you ever been paralyzed by your fears, afraid to pursue a passion, engage in social activities, or even just engage in your normal every day life?

As we begin discussing this topic, ANXIETY, it’s important to know that anxiety is REAL. It affects many many people. BUT most importantly it CAN be managed!!

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An anxiety disorder incorporates biological and psychological components with those experiences and makes our lives quite difficult. I doubt that anybody could honestly say they enjoy having irrational or excessive fears, a persistent feeling of apprehension, or difficulty managing life situations.

Three things I want you to know:

1. You don’t need to or deserve to suffer from the symptoms of anxiety.

2. The fact that you suffer from anxiety does not mean there is something wrong with you.

3. Your body contains so many tools to help you cope with and manage anxiety symptoms!

The breath is something most of us usually forget about. Our body maintains the natural rhythm of inhaling and exhaling that keeps our body alive. It’s miraculous. There is nothing wrong with not constantly being aware of our breath (we’d never have time for anything else), but it’s sure powerful when we take a few minutes from our day to use the breath for a specific purpose.

First, just learning to be aware of our breath and paying attention to it can be daunting. That in itself can even make us feel anxious. However, as we slow down and give ourselves more time to focus on our breathing, eventually taking some control over each breath, there is an amazing physiological response that takes place.

As our breath gets deeper, our sympathetic nervous system (the Fight, Flight, Freeze mode) can turn off. Instead, our parasympathetic nervous system can take over. This kind of deep breathing is also more effective at nourishing and oxygenating the body, and it will calm us down.

Many studies, as well as a general understanding of the human body, will tell us that the breath is excellent at calming us down and relieving anxiety. Places like Harvard Health, Psychology Today, and the Mayo Clinic have all asserted that Yoga and focusing on our breath can alleviate symptoms of anxiety. So what does that process look like of gaining control of your breathing and using it?

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First step: just notice your breath! As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the simple act of paying attention to your natural breath can make us feel anxious, but as we spend more time observing our breath, we can overcome that initial tendency.

After that, we can begin using our breath in various ways…

You can direct your breath to be a certain number of seconds long.

You can guide your breath to specific parts of your body.

You can use your breath to envision calming images or ideas.

You can find peace and stillness.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Now, this is just skimming the surface of the practice of mindful breathing. However, what I find to be one of the best parts of this principle, especially in this crazy day and age, is that once you learn how to really use your breath, you now have treatment that is entirely FREE... 

One that you can use any time, anywhere.... 

And one that has no negative side-effects!

All it requires is some time and attention.

Aren’t we worth that?

We have created a unique process combining the amazing benefits of Yoga and counseling here at Cache Valley Counseling.  Our classes and individual sessions, particularly the Breathing for Anxiety course, will help anyone who is willing to invest a small amount of effort and time to develop these skills. We love sharing what we know will help. Come discover with us and begin your healing journey!